Friday 2 October 2009

Cathedrale D’Images

I’m trying to be very diligent about posting every day – every morning if I can. But this morning I was busy getting a French haircut. I will try to get one of my relations to take a photo at some point. I miss my London hairdresser (the brownies! the wine!) and think she did a much better job of the colour (for those keeping score) but getting my hair cut in France was certainly an experience. The guy cutting it asked me if I wanted it to be ‘enfile’ … I said yes, not being entirely sure what that was (thinking of ‘enfilade’) but it meant slicing along the sides with the blades of scissors. Anyway, it looks very chic – although by tomorrow morning will doubtlessly be back to its usual all-over-the-place self.

But back to our sheep as they say around here.

The Cathedrale d’Images is a son et lumiere experience in a former limestone quarry, often talked about by one of my former colleagues. To be honest, I wasn’t that bothered about going to see it, but he spoke of it so enthusiastically and since I was there, I decided to stop by. I’m glad I did - it really is a magical experience.

Each year the show has a different theme; this year’s was Picasso. I’ll admit that when I saw this it did nothing for my enthusiasm levels (I was feeling Picassoed out), but I was wrong.

The entrance to the quarry does, in fact, look like a church, and all of the ‘chambers’ have very grandiose names.

On entering, you walk along a dark, cold passage and hear the music and then see the first images appearing on the rocks.

(By the way, it took me a while to figure out the best setting on my camera so some of the pictures are a bit blurry - it was very dark in there.)

There really is something quite magical about the way the images come to life on the rock walls – it puts you in mind of cave paintings at La Tene and Lascaux – especially when I saw these:

I loved the details that were highlighted and the themes – for example, Picasso’s women:

The music was brilliantly chosen and worked perfectly with the images. It ranged from Carmen to jazz to atonal harmonics. There was something, too, about seeing even familiar images repeated on such a large scale that made me appreciate them in a new way.

(I loved these two old boys who stayed leaning against the wall the whole time I was there.)

I read that the mind behind the Cathedrale, Albert Plecy, was fascinated by the Image Totale – the idea that when the viewer becomes integrated in an image she gets a whole new understanding of it.

What can I say except to give it my ultimate accolade (this as someone who rarely has to pay entrance for museums/exhibitions/’spectacles’) – it was absolutely and completely worth the price of admission. And I don’t say that very often.

(Self portrait by Eithne, with background by Picasso.)


  1. Did you go the the place where they either do a Diana or the Queen? Which one did you go for? Front like Diana and back like the Queen? I love hearing aobut your adventures so much, keep it up! Love to all xx

  2. No! I completely forgot. I think I probably would have gone for Diana and perfected my shy-smile-while-glancing-up-through-my-eyelashes. I loved having you here to share my adventures with - you can be my wingman anytime (or I'll be yours).

  3. Get you and your cave art knowledge. Nice bison though...